June 11, 2009
Slugfest in the Legal Blogosphere: Mr. "Legal Hitman" v. Mr. "Irresponsible Anonymous Blogger"
Over the past several weeks Ed Whelan who writes for Bench Memos, a blog published by the National Review Online, and an a pseudonymous blogger at Obsidian Wings known as “Publius,” have been debating various issues related to SCOTUS nominee Sonia Sotomayor complete with barbs and insults. In other words, legal and political blog commentary with a heavy dose of ranting and raving -- not exactly an unusual phenomena in the blogosphere.
Publius apparently calls Whelan a "legal hitman," upsetting Whelam sufficiently to track down his identity and out him in Exposing an Irresponsible Anonymous Blogger. "Publius" confirmed his identity in Stay Classy Ed Whelan. He is John F. Blevins of the South Texas College of Law ("I have blogged under a pseudonym largely for private and professional reasons. Professionally, I’ve heard that pre-tenure blogging (particularly on politics) can cause problems. And before that, I was a lawyer with real clients. I also believe that the classroom should be as nonpolitical as possible – and I don’t want conservative students to feel uncomfortable before they take a single class based on my posts. So I don’t tell them about this blog. Also, I write and research on telecom policy – and I consider blogging and academic research separate endeavors. This, frankly, is a hobby.").
The outing created a firestorm of posts in the legal blogosphere. Apparently there's nothing more important going on in the world right now. There is one and only one law blog post worth reading, see Chicago Law Prof Brian Leiter's Thoughts on Anonymity and Pseudonymity in Cyberspace. [JH]
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For the record, Ed Whelan (not Whelam) actually admitted that he made a mistake by outing Publius and sent him an apology. He also posted an apology on the National Review Online (June 8, 2009). It has also made the rounds. I'm a bit surprised you missed this or didn't mention it.
I don't in any defend what Whelan initially did and I think their is a huge need for anonymity, especially when discussing politics with academic law librarians.
Posted by: anon | Jun 11, 2009 1:27:46 PM